Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Covers and Worst Film of the Decade

Decembers in pop culture land are always filled with a glut of year-end lists, but this year is even crazier with everyone tossing out decade-end lists left and right. I didn't want this to get out of hand, so I've really narrowed the scope to just a flat-out list of my personal favourite cover songs of the decade and THE absolute worst film of the decade.

Attempting to rank these would be an exercise in futility, so this is purely based on iTunes playcounts. I have 6000+ covers tagged as being in the 00's, but of course it wouldn't surprise me if some poor covers were left out of the running based on incomplete tags. While posting all 50 songs would be overkill, not to mention an open invitation for a blogger crackdown, I've randomly linked to a few covers, some of which I've probably never even blogged about despite their high ranking. Here we go...

Top 50 Covers 2000 - 2009:
50. Dick Brave & The Backbeats - Freedom [originally by George Michael]
49. The Breeders - Wicked Little Town (Hedwig Version) [originally from Hedwig & the Angry Inch]
48. Bowling For Soup - The Bare Necessities [originally from Disney's The Jungle Book]
47. Ben Folds - Songs of Love [originally by The Divine Comedy]
46. The Bad Plus - Tom Sawyer [originally by Rush]
45. The Living End - I Get a Kick Out of You [originally by Cole Porter]
44. Tok Tok Tok - The Weight [originally by The Band]
43. The Phantom Of The Opera - Nightwish [originally by Andrew Lloyd Webber]
42. Rasputina - Rock and Roll [originally by Led Zeppelin]
41. Brad Roberts - Bette Davis Eyes [originally by Jackie DeShannon]
40. Pascale Picard - Shine On You Crazy Diamond [originally by Pink Floyd]
39. Devo 2.0 - Monkey's Uncle [originally by Annette Funicello with The Beach Boys]
38. The Wrong Trousers - Such Great Heights [originally by The Postal Service]
37. Lulu Hughes - Time [originally by Pink Floyd]
36. Hayseed Dixie - Holiday [originally by Green Day]
35. Fall Out Boy - What's This? [originally by Danny Elfman]
34. Mark Ronson - Oh My God (feat. Lily Allen) [originally by Kaiser Chiefs]
33. The Polyphonic Spree - Lithium [originally by Nirvana]
32. JerryC - Canon Rock [originally by Pachelbel]
31. The Bicycles - Cuddly Toy [originally by Harry Nilsson]
30. Serena Ryder - It Doesn't Matter Anymore [originally recorded by Buddy Holly; written by Paul Anka]
29. Motormark - Left To My Own Devices [originally by Pet Shop Boys]
28. Mark Ronson - Just (feat. Alex Greenwald) [originally by Radiohead]
27. Serena Ryder - Some Of These Days [originally by Shelton Brooks]
26. Chris Thile - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground [originally by The White Stripes]
25. PoZitive Orchestra - Shine On You Crazy Diamond [originally by Pink Floyd] [DIRECT LINK]
24. Daniel Bedingfield - A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes [originally from Disney's Cinderella]
23. D-Sailors - We Built This City (feat. Wick Slick) [originally by Starship]
22. Danny Michel - Lady Stardust [originally by David Bowie]
21. The F-Ups - All the Young Dudes [originally by David Bowie]
20. Phantom Planet - Our House [originally by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young]
19. Blacklight Posterboys - Jet [originally by Paul McCartney & Wings]
18. Me First & The Gimme Gimmes - Nothing Compares 2 U [originally by Prince]
17. Jon Brion - Play the Game [originally by Queen]
16. Days of the New - L.A. Woman [originally by The Doors]
15. OK Go & Bonerama - Rock 'N' Roll Suicide [originally by David Bowie]
14. Mint Royal - Singin' in the Rain [originally written by Arthur Freed & Nacio Herb Brown]
13. The Polyphonic Spree - Wig in a Box [originally from Hedwig & The Angry Inch]
12. The Shins - Baby Boomerang [originally by T. Rex]
11. William Shatner - Common People [feat. Joe Jackson] [originally by Pulp]
10. Jamie Cullum - I Get a Kick Out Of You [originally by Cole Porter]
09. Harvey Danger - Oh! You Pretty Things [originally by David Bowie]
08. Manic Street Preachers - Can't Take My Eyes Off You [originally recorded by Franki Valli]
07. RLM & Katsuhiko Sakamoto & Ikuko Harada - 19th Nervous Breakdown [originally by The Rolling Stones]
06. Estradasphere - Super Mario Bros. 2 SuperBuckJazz [originally by Koji Kondo]
05. The Shins - We Will Become Silhouettes [originally by The Postal Service]
04. Ben Kweller - BK Baby [originally by Vanilla Ice]
03. The Bens - Wicked Little Town (Tommy Gnosis Version) [originally from Hedwig & The Angry Inch]
02. Ben Jelen - Wicked Little Town [originally from Hedwig & The Angry Inch]
01. Danny Michel - Young Americans [originally by David Bowie]

It shouldn't surprise any regular reader that Danny Michel's Young Americans tops this list since it's more or less my favourite cover of all-time. Perhaps a little more surprising, two covers by four Bens of two different versions of Wicked Little Town take the two and three positions. A third cover by The Breeders also made the cut, so quantitively you could say Wicked Little Town is my favourite song of all-time, cover or otherwise, and I wouldn't really argue. With five entries, David Bowie dwarfs the competition in having his songs covered lending some vague credibility to an argument I heard once that everybody does a better Bowie song than Bowie himself (not at all true, though he does inspire great covers).


Thankfully, I managed to avoid almost all of Rotten Tomatoes' Worst 100 Films of the Decade, but a couple slipped by. While some bad films are merely boring or forgettable, these ones also inspired active hate.

5. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
4. The New Guy (2002)
3. August Rush (2007)
2. Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002)
1. Titanic: The Animated Movie (2001)

No, I'm not joking. This exists and I have seen it. I came across the DVD multiple times in the Chinese section of the public library before morbid curiosity got the better of me and I took it out. Oh boy, did I regret it. This incomprehensibly abysmal movie can basically be summed up with this clip of a rapping dog:

When discussing decade-end lists, my co-worker says this doesn't count because it's not even a movie and he's kinda right. While Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever is so terrible it's almost laughable, this abomination is so mind-blowingly atrocious that it makes you hate yourself for having watched it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

One last gift to you all, my dear readers! The gift of laughter, ho ho ho. I've watched this dozens of times and it never fails to crack me up. Much joy to you and your loved ones wherever you are.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Every Season Has an End

It's the end of the year, the end of the decade. So far, I've resisted the temptation to add to the plethora of decade-end lists, which isn't to say that it won't happen... but for now, four versions of The Greenhornes' There is an End, followed by a grab bag of random links to recent things of note.

"Spring brings the rain,
With winter comes pain,
Every season has an end.

The Greenhornes featuring Holly Golightly - There is an End
The Greenhornes collaborated with British singer Holly Golightly who performed lead vocals on There is an End, written by Craig Fox, the band's guitarist/lead vocalist. It originally appeared on their 2002 album Dual Mono, but later served as the de facto theme song to the 2005 Jim Jarmusch film Broken Flowers with Bill Murray. By a weird coincidence, the very same weekend that Broken Flowers came out, I happened to go to back-to-back shows of The White Stripes here in Vancouver for which The Greenhornes were the openers. After the second show, I hung around with some other fans in the vain hope of meeting Jack or Meg (neither showed) but The Greenhornes did and I shook hands with Patrick Keeler and got the band to autograph my ticket (which I promptly lost). Of course, Keeler and Little Jack Lawrence went on to join Jack White as part of The Raconteurs and Lawrence would also be part of The Dead Weather when they debuted earlier this year.

Holly Golightly - There's an End
This version sans The Greenhornes (and slightly altered title) appeared on Holly Golightly's 2003 album Truly She is None Other, which featured liner notes by none other than Jack White. Golightly also joined Jack and Meg for the duet (um, word for three-person duet??) It's True That We Love One Another from The White Stripes album Elephant.

Gnarls Barkley - There's an End (Live in Boston)
This was an early Christmas gift courtesy of fellow blogger Leopold Stotch of Versions Galore. I had been searching for this for the past couple years ever since finding out Gnarls Barkley had been covering There is an End during their summer '06 tour. I knew some sort of recording existed somewhere but I failed miserably in my attempts to track it down until it magically appeared in my inbox last month. Many thanks!! Funnily enough, that same summer The Raconteurs were frequently covering Gnarls Barkley's Crazy at their own shows!

Ronnie Spector - There is an End (featuring Patti Smith)
Last month saw the US release of The Last of the Rock Stars from the legendary Ronnie Spector, though the album actually came out in the UK in 2006. Backed by Keeler and Lawrence (no Fox?), this version also features fellow 2007 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Patti Smith on backing vocals. Running with this whole theme of White Stripes connections, this summer Meg White married Patti Smith's son Jackson in a double ceremony with Jack Lawrence and his fiancée in the backyard of Jack White's Nashville home.


Okay, so this is probably my last post until after the holidays, but I've got a bunch of news/links to share, as always, filtered through the tunnel vision that is Fong Songs.

  • The nominations are in and the Coverville Countdown is on! Brian's annual countdown of the top 40 covers of all-time is in the voting stage until December 22nd. This year's a little different with the newly instituted Coverville Hall of Fame, 10 perennial cover contenders taken out of the running to let some new blood in. Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah, Johnny Cash's Hurt, and Bill Shatner's Common People are among the elite covers that are no longer eligible. Last week, I submitted my five nominations for your consideration: Ellen McIlwaine's Higher Ground, Moxy Früvous's Psycho Killer, OK Go & Bonerama's Rock 'n' Roll Suicide, Danny Michel's Young Americans, and PoZitive Orchestra's Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Vote here!

  • Speaking of voting, Cover Me's latest cover commission is We Are the Willows. Vote what song he should cover! Right now, The Shins' Caring is Creepy leads the pack, but I went with The Zombies' The Way I Feel Inside.

  • In case you missed it, 2009 Polaris Prize winners F*cked Up recently released their cover of Do They Know It's Christmas on iTunes with 100% of the proceeds going to Canadian non-profit organizations. The eclectic cast of performers lending their support include Tegan & Sara, David Cross, Yo La Tengo, GZA, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, Bob Mould, Andrew W.K., Kyp Malone, and Kevin Drew. You can buy it on iTunes and read more about it here.

  • Fong Songs fave Alex Robinson's A Kidnapped Santa Claus is in bookstores everywhere and online if you're looking for a last minute stocking stuffer or just a plain great gift. Full disclosure: I know Alex reads my blog(!), but that won't stop me from an shamelessly plugging it without being asked to! A Kidnapped Santa Claus is a graphic adaptation of a 1904 short story by L. Frank Baum (he of Oz fame), which can be read for free in its entirety on Project Gutenberg. I'd honestly never heard of the story before this, but it's fun to notice the obvious influence it had on the plot of Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. As always, Alex's drawings are great and it bears his distinct style even though it's his first adaptation, not to mention his first all ages book. There are hilarious hidden visual jokes throughout and I should definitely mention there are pugs in suits, ha ha. Highly recommended! Alex's epic Box Office Poison was also recently named one of The AV Club best comics of the past decade--congrats, Alex!

  • I've mentioned this before, but it's worth a revisit: Covered, the blog of comic book covers redrawn by other comic artists. Just like music covers, the best ones completely make it in their own style while still retaining the essence of the original. I'm consistently impressed by the output and occasionally I'll actually recognize a cover from my miniscule collection of single issue comics (somewhere in a box back home).

  • Pomplamoose made waves in the cover world with their relatively recent hit youtube video cover of Beyoncé's Single Ladies. And that's not all, they have great covers of Beat It, Mrs. Robinson, September, and more. The accompanying videos are must-see since the San Francisco duo are pioneers in the self-created movement of "VideoSongs". That is, every instrument, voice, and sound you hear can be seen in the video (this will completely make sense when you watch the videos). Even without the visuals, the music is fantastic and all the covers can be downloaded for free from their myspace page. Proving they're not just a one-trick pony (or one-trick moose), their latest triumph is the Christmas original Always in the Season. Watch the magic here. This time, the duo is joined by a mini orchestral section that includes Zoë Keating on cello! A new classic.

  • If you have some sort of crazy White Stripes fanatic on your Christmas list and you're extremely generous, well, Jack White just made your gift-giving decision very easy. Last week, it was announced that a limited edition box set for The White Stripes concert film Under Great White Northern Lights would be immediately available for pre-order and released in March. The film, which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Fest, celebrates The White Stripes unprecedented tour of every Canadian province and territory in 2007. The über boxset includes the DVD of the film, an exclusive DVD of the entire 10th Anniversary show in Glace Bay, the band's first ever live album on CD and double LP with songs recorded during the Canadian tour, a 208-page hardcover photo book with a foreword by Jim Jarmusch, 1 of 6 different silk screens designed by Rob Jones, a and a 7" vinyl with two live cuts included The Wheels on the Bus (uh, recorded on a city bus in Winnipeg). Naturally, I was all over it and pre-ordered it as soon as humanly possible, in spite of the hefty $200 price tag (watch it, it jumps $50 in the new year). If you're a long-time reader, you may remember me going on and on and on about the tour that whole summer on the blog. In addition to our hometown Edmonton gig, my friends and I managed to pull off a crazy pilgrimage to the Maritimes to see four shows included the ultimate gig in Glace Bay. I'll let you know if I make it on the DVD. :)

  • From the realm of unlikely cover collaborators, Montréal rocker Sam Roberts performed a cover of Kenny Rogers' The Gambler with the The Holiday Jam Players at a benefit show in Toronto a few days ago. Sharing the stage: Kathleen Edwards, Jim Bryson, City & Colour's Dallas Green, TSN's Dave Hodge, and CBC's Ron MacLean! Watch here.

  • In related hockey news, strictly for Oilers fans... country singer Corb Lund penned a celebratory Oilers anthem called The Oil's Back in Town. The song is peppered with classic calls from 630 CHED play-by-play man Rod Phillips during our dynasty years. Fun stuff and proceeds from the single's sale benefit The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. Buy it from iTunes today!

  • A silent short film directed by Neil Gaiman called Statuesque will make its debut on SKY1 in the UK on Christmas Day at 10pm. It stars the always reliable Bill Nighy and the lovely Miss Amanda Palmer. If I remember correctly, the score is by Sxip Shirey.

  • My ever-dwindling concert bucket list will get another check when Jamie Cullum drops by the Commodore Ballroom in March! Cullum will be touring select cities in the US (also Vancouver and Toronto!) in support of his first album in 4 years, The Pursuit. You may have seen his, ahem, explosive video for his cover of Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music, a song I admittedly only knew from the 30-second snippet that plays TWICE before every single movie I've seen in the past year.

  •, the "little digital music store" from Canada, recently released a full cover album of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Featuring recent Fong Songs fave Jill Barber crooning The Christmas Song, the whole 12 track album can be bought for only $8.88 with 100% of the proceeds going to the Daily Bread Food Bank.
Have a great holiday everyone!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Eh! to Zee Avi

I am really excited to see Malaysian artist Zee Avi play at the Media Club here in Vancouver tomorrow night. Even though she's basically my favourite new artist of the year, I've somehow avoided blogging about her since first finding out about her music in April. My first exposure to Zee Avi was through a post on Ukulele Hunt with the chords to her song Just You and Me and a brief description of her heartwarming journey from YouTube uke picker to a US record deal. Admittedly the part that immediately grabbed my attention and had me dig deeper was the mention of her video being "discovered" by Raconteurs drummer Patrick Keeler.

Dating back over two years ago, she had been posting several original songs and covers (including The White Stripes' We're Going to Be Friends) under the username KokoKaina, but it was her original Christmas song No Christmas for Me that exploded in popularity, being featured on the YouTube front page and leading to a deluge of e-mails from well-wishers and label reps. One of those was from Ian Montone, manager of The White Stripes and The Shins among others, who had been shown the video by Patrick Keeler. This eventually led to her being flown to L.A. to record her self-titled debut album, which was jointly released this past May by Monotone Records and Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records. Her No Christmas for Me was also released on last year's Brushfire X-Mas compilation, This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday.

If I'm not mistaken, this will be her first ever gig in Canada. Don't worry, we will refrain from referring to her as Zed Avi... Based on some of her tweets today, the gig was a little up in the air:

    @ZeeAvi: Wow. What an ordeal of a morning. Up since 6. Headed to Canadian Consulate, told 2 come back at 1:30, found out we didn't just in time b4 10

    @ZeeAvi: Waiting for my number to be called out. Keeping my fingers crossed for same day approval. Big ups to my agent Robin Taylor for running...

    @ZeeAvi: with me. Literally. Running.

    @ZeeAvi: Cross your fingers with me. Let's make Vancouver happen!

    @ZeeAvi: So after ONE whole day of walking, Vancouver is good to go! Ohsem!
Huzzah! This is the third time this year she's been scheduled to perform a Vancouver gig and I would've been very disappointed to find out another show was scrapped. I was originally going to see her show here in July when I found out it had been canceled with no explanation. Then she was re-scheduled a month later as the opener for Pete Yorn, unfortunately on the same night as The Dead Weather's Vancouver debut. It turns out that Yorn gig never happened anyway for reasons unknown. So third time's the charm, right?

Even when you check out her early videos her on YouTube, it's easy to hear that star-making quality in her voice, which has a jazzy Norah Jones vibe. Though most of the songs are performed on guitar, she starts writing them all on ukulele. In an interview I read or heard somewhere, she describes The Velvet Underground as an influence, in the sense that she would write these happy, upbeat songs that belie the lyrical content. For example, one of the standout songs Poppy describes losing a boyfriend to heroin addiction with the head bobbing chorus "The poppy took my baby away from me". Another great song Kantoi jauntily flops back and forth between Malay and English while telling the story of two cheating lovers ("Kantoi" = "Busted!"). Some other ones I dig are Bitter Heart, Monte, Honey Bee, and a cover of Morrissey's First of the Gang to Die. Zee has also been doing the radio circuit this summer, which has produced some other sweet covers:

Zee Avi - First of the Gang to Die [originally by Morrissey]
From Zee Avi's self-titled album, available on Amazon, iTunes, and the usual spots.

Zee Avi - Slow Hands [originally by Interpol]
Zee Avi - Dream a Little Dream of Me [originally written by Wilbur Schwandt, Fabian Andre and Gus Kahn]
Live on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, May 20, 2009.

Zee Avi - Summertime [originally by George Gershwin]
Live on the Acoustic Cafe, September 21, 2009.

Two dates left on the tour:
December 10th The Crocodile - Seattle, WA
December 11th Roseland Theater - Portland, OR

Check out Zee on the internet:

Friday, December 04, 2009

Beatles For Sale Covered!

2009 has been a big year for the Beatles brand, from the stereo and mono remastered box sets to the release of The Beatles: Rock Band. It was also the 40th anniversary of the release of Abbey Road, so we saw some cover action from Mojo Magazine who put together a full album cover compilation and The Art of Time Ensemble who put covered the album live (listen here).

We also saw the beginning of the epic Beatles Complete on Ukulele project spearheaded by Roger Greenawalt and Dave Barratt, which started in January and will continue until July 2012, a new Beatles ukulele cover every week for free. Since I last mentioned the project, Megg Farrell's Dig a Pony has become my latest favourite. This very Sunday December 6th, The 2nd Annual Beatles Complete On Ukulele Festival will be performed in Brooklyn. Running from 11am to midnight, a ragtag band of singers and musicians will be performing all 185 original Beatles songs. You can get in, presumably at any point, for $10 admission, though free if you bring your own ukulele at 11am to join a ukulele playing mob. Notable among the multitude of performers are Guster's Ryan Miller (slated for Something and I'm Looking Through You) and The Zambonis, who any hockey fan would recognize from their ubiquitous I Wanna Drive the Zamboni played at NHL games everywhere [EDIT: it has been pointed out to me that the song is originally by The Gear Daddies, though The Zambonis have also recorded it]. Another exciting surprise is that Zee Avi, probably my favourite new artist of the 2009, is set to perform And I Love Her and Good Night at the show. I'm excited to see her live in Vancouver next week, so expect a Zee Avi cover post coming right up. More information including the hourly schedule for the Complete Beatles on Ukulele show is here.

Anyway, today marks another milestone that's particularly dear to my heart, the 45th anniversary of Beatles for Sale. Released December 4, 1964 in the UK, it's my all-time favourite Beatles album with arguably my all-time favourite Beatles song in No Reply-- arguably, since who can really pinpoint one favourite Beatles song to the exclusion of any other? In the US, songs from Beatles for Sale were split between the releases Beatles '65 and Beatles IV. After the all-original A Hard Day's Night, which was recorded and released in the same year (ridiculous!), The Beatles returned to the mix of originals and covers that marked their first two albums. Critics (and fans) have been pretty harsh on the album, noting the band's apparent weariness (ha, look at that album cover!), the originals to cover song ratio, and the cynicism of the title itself (the album was rushed for Christmas release). Even Lennon and McCartney consider several of the tracks as filler. But I say pshaw to all of that! Favourite Beatles album of all-time! That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now on to the cover songs!

Yellow Matter Custard - No Reply [originally by The Beatles]
Yellow Matter Custard was a Beatles tribute supergroup made up of Mike Portnoy, Neal Morse, Paul Gilbert, and Matt Bissonette who only ever performed twice, though one show was recorded for a live CD and DVD. This cover isn't particularly great, but it supports something I've always believed, that No Reply basically has the greatest bridge of all time. When I was young, I used to repeatedly listen to that section of the song and immediately rewind it to hear it again, years before I even knew what the bridge part of a song was. When I first heard this version, I just had to laugh when the band finished the song but went back to replay the bridge part because it was so great. AMEN! The song is filled with bubbling rage, jealousy, and paranoia as the protagonist is repeatedly gets "no reply" from his lover. Or maybe it's all in his head and he's a stalker. Rubber Soul's Run for Your Life makes a particularly vicious sequel to this song.

Marianne Faithfull - I'm a Loser [originally by The Beatles]
The second in the so-called Lennon trilogy that kicks off the album, I'm a Loser carries on with the somewhat dark and dreary themes brought up in No Reply (just you wait 'til Baby's in Black!). Not along ago they were singing Love Me Do and All My Loving, but now John's repeatedly singing "I'm a loooooooooser". He's lost his girl and is now filled with self-loathing. Lovely! This peppy version by Marianne Faithfull has an air of tragedy if you listen to it while perusing her wikipedia article.

Punch Brothers - Baby's in Black [originally by The Beatles]
One of the darker themed Beatles numbers, here the protagonist is in love with a girl who is grieving the death of her man. "Though he'll never come back, she's dressed in black". Yikes! The song is also notable for John and Paul's great harmonies, which are admirably covered here by the Punch Brothers, a bluegrass band fronted by ex-Nickel Creek mandolinist Chris Thile. This is from their live performance on the Kent, OH online radio station Folk Alley.

The Beach Boys - Rock and Roll Music [originally by Chuck Berry]
The first of six covers on the album, The Beatles were reaching back into their catalogue of live covers from their days playing clubs in Hamburg and Liverpool. This was reportedly one of their favourites to play live and is one of several Chuck Berry covers they recorded. More than 10 years after The Beatles' version, The Beach Boys released this on their 1976 album 15 Big Ones, a bomb of an album (though a hit) that mixed covers and originals. Hmmm... sound familiar? Listen to the difference between the Beatles "cranking one out" and The Beach Boys trying to cash in on renewed public interest following the success of their Endless Summer compilation.

Glen Phillips - I'll Follow the Sun [originally by The Beatles]
This Glen Phillips cover comes from the 2009 Eddie Murphy film Imagine That. Has anybody even heard of this movie? Well, the film's soundtrack takes an I Am Sam all-Beatles cover approach, though the only other artists I recognize are Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs who perform Got to Get You Into My Life. From what I've heard of the rest of the album, the covers are very by-the-numbers though I dig this one's extended coda.

The Hollies - Mr. Moonlight [originally recorded by Dr. Feelgood and the Interns]
This has been called one of the worst songs the Beatles ever recorded. What can I say, I like it. A commenter on The Beatles Bible website said of this song: "Each time John sings 'And the night you don't come my way...', possibly totaling 10-15 seconds worth of Beatles history, is emblazoned in my mind as perhaps the best 15 seconds in musical history!" I've always thought so too and I'm glad to read someone else pinpoint the exact moments of greatness in this cover. John's raw delivery particularly on those eight words completely makes it work and this distinct vocal quality is missing on other covers and even the original. The Hollies cover actually predates the Beatles' by 11 months on their Stay with the Hollies album.

Count Basie - Kansas City [originally by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller]
The seventh track on Beatles for Sale was a medley of Kansas City and Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, the latter by Little Richard who usually performed this same combo live. This instrumental big band cover is from American bandleader Count Basie and his orchestra who released an album of Beatles covers in 1966, Basie's Beatles Bag.

The Undertakers - Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey [originally by Little Richard]
The Undertakers were contemporaries of the Beatles in Liverpool, led by Jackie Lomax who later became an Apple recording artist. His 1969 album Is This What You Want? was produced by George Harrison and also featured Paul, Ringo, and Eric Clapton.

Billy Preston - Eight Days a Week [originally by The Beatles]
The most outright pop song on the album, it's probably not a surprise that it was also the only song on the album to hit #1 on the charts. This upbeat organ cover is by Billy Preston, sometimes called the Fifth Beatle. Now just how many "Fifth Beatles" were there?? Answer: many. But Billy Preston made key contributions to several Beatles classics: electric piano on Get Back and Don't Let Me Down and Hammond organ on Something and I Want You (She's So Heavy). In fact, the Get Back single was credited to "The Beatles with Billy Preston", the only time an official Beatles single shared a credit with another artist. Another fun fact: Billy Preston's version of My Sweet Lord was actually released 10 months before George Harrison's!

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Words of Love [originally by Buddy Holly]
This austere, dreamy cover by Jessica Lea Mayfield is from this year's Sweetheart cover compilation from Starbucks and it's actually one of the stand-outs, although I suppose I am a sucker for Beatles for Sale covers.

Ben Folds Five - Honey Don't [originally by Carl Perkins]
As sung by Ringo for his one vocal spot, it was recorded during the final session for Beatles for Sale. Coincidentally, this would be the last song Ben Folds Five ever recorded together. It was featured in the PBS special Good Rockin' Tonight: The Legacy of Sun Records, although it was left off the accompanying CD release (Paul McCartney's That's All Right Mama made the cut). It was eventually released on DVD.

Yes - Every Little Thing [originally by The Beatles]
This might be one of the most drastic reinventions of any Beatles song, let alone one of their least covered ones. From the prog rock band Yes and their self-titled 1969 debut album, this cover starts off as an unrecognizable psychedelic instrumental that more or less sums up prog rock for me . . . then after a couple minutes of that, the lead guitar boldly blares the song's melody and even sneaks in the Day Tripper riff. Every single line in the chorus is punctuated by a musical exclamation mark and the whole thing is actually kind of awesome after a jarring first listen.

Rhythms of New Guinea - I Don't Want to Spoil the Party [originally by the Beatles]
I found this random CD at the library, which is a collection of songs recorded by artists from Papua New Guinea. There aren't really any liner notes to speak of nor any explanation of any sort, but it does randomly feature this Beatles cover! Apparently Papua New Guineans are equally capable of by-the-numbers cover songs as any other nation.

James Husband - What You're Doing [originally by The Beatles]
After No Reply, this is probably my next favourite original from the album. From James Husband of the band Of Montreal, this is actually the only cover of the song I found (excluding Beatles tribute bands).

Johnny Cash - Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby [originally by Carl Perkins]
This cover comes from the Johnny Cash's Unearthed box set, outtakes and alternate takes of songs recorded for his series of American Recordings. I didn't include it, but his daughter Rosanne Cash actually had a country hit in 1989 with her cover of I Don't Want to Spoil the Party.

Happy Anniversary, Beatles for Sale!

P.S. If you really want to see Beatles for sale, check out their official US webstore. For all your Beatles shot glass, fountain pens, and jigsaw puzzle needs. Sheesh.